As idiosyncratic as Lene Lovich was back in the early ‘80s, so is Sophe Lux now, almost to the look. Hailing from Portland, Oregon, Sophe Lux is a theatrically envisioned troupe that taps into an age-old musical blend of thought and concept. Interestingly, singer and visionist, Gwenneth Haynes is the sister of filmmaker Todd Haynes (Velvet Goldmine, Safe, Far From Heaven), which reveals the currency of their upbringing as it passes hands.
From the menacing cover to the thematic songs found within, Waking the Mystics is a collection of observations on this current time and its various stones of realizations. With lyrics that are inspired by the ruminations of such philosophers as Fredric Nietzsche, combined with the poetics of William Blake, you will definitively get a mindful of life’s inadequacies and our entrapment within our own primitively Neanderthal approach to it all.
The album begins with “Target Market,” a look at how we absorb ourselves against the political landscape by immersing within the numbing trivialities of shopping. Musically, there is much to pay respect to Lene Lovich for. It is an immediately recognizable trait heard on the very first track. Haynes shifts her voice into several ranges, wrapping a swirling style from sweetness to high-mindedness. That’s the theatre in her blood.
On “Lonely Girl,” there is an homage to Kate Bush with her vocal style and the intriguing witch lyrics and which carries through in “Marie Antoinette Robot 2073,” a song in four parts. By “Little Soldier of Time,” she is back to a Lovich style. Sophe Lux shows their greatest disdain for the lack of spirituality that has formed like a low-lying fogbank over the expressway of humanity in the brilliantly created “God Doesn’t Take American Express.”
The music of Sophe Lux is adventurous and diverse, moving in and out of ballads, rock, and jazz (hear the short but excellent “A Time of Light” for the jazz). Haynes’ vocals are nothing short of amazing as she easily pushes from one style to another with ease to put the exclamation point on her works.
Art and music, expression and thought, all belong together. Thankfully, the rock-cabaret of Sophe Lux keeps it alive, even if outside of mainstream appreciation. For those of us who can extract the communications from these songs, enjoy the different shell of sound, and appreciatively differentiate from the vast oceans of styles found on recordings like Waking the Mystics, we have a universe of music to never tire of.